May 5th, 2012

#3344: Let me reduce that whole "Julia" thing for you.

Because it really is pretty simple to pare it down to its simplest elements to explain why it's a trainload of horseshit:

That's what the Obama administration wants people to take away from their most recent entry into their parade of inept propaganda.

(It took me almost five minutes to find the right fonts, damn it. I hope you're happy.)

* * *

Last night I watched the playlist again.

I've been downloading Mizuiro Jidai for quite some time, and haven't watched any. This is a series I began collecting as fansubs more than a decade ago.

Before last night, I'd seen through ep 12. I finally popped it onto the playlist, though, and have through ep 28 on the machine waiting to be viewed.

...watched anime twice in April; well, I'm thinking about watching more anime today, so perhaps I'll do better in May.

World Only God Knows II, like Ben-To, is down to its last episode. Mizuiro Jidai will take the place of one of them, but I've got to find something else to take the place of the other.

Also, I still have Borrower Arietty sitting here on my desk, patiently waiting to be watched. Perhaps I'll do that as a double feature with Howl's Moving Castle since I still haven't watched that, either.

* * *

Last night's weather--of course the wind changed direction and the temps started dropping sometime around noon yesterday. By late afternoon it had dropped twenty degrees to about 52-ish. A little while before dark I looked outside and saw that it was getting hazy.

I woke up around 4-ish and went outside; it was foggy enough that the acoustics were affected. The train that happened to be going through sounded strange, as if someone had turned down the volume on it. Not "far away", but "quieter". Weird.

Anyway, I was groggy, so it took me a few minutes before I realized that I had spent at least a few minutes standing in the driveway, staring up at the sky, trying to figure out if that was a star I was seeing through the fog, or what...and that I probably looked--at best--as if I'd been smoking something illegal.

So I went out in the back yard and could hear, far away, the springtime frogs happily peeping away somewhere.

* * *

(Yes I was fully clothed. Shut up. Besides, it was cold outside.)

* * *

During the big thunderstorm that hit early Friday morning I happened to be standing at the back door when a very, very bright bolt of lightning arced through the sky. It was so bright I was blinded by it; and when I had blinked the spots from my eyes I realized that it had been bright enough--and had lasted long enough--to trip the photosensor on the neighbors' security light, shutting it off.

Back in the 1980s, there was a burglary ring operating in town here. A couple of local high schoolers turned out to be the culprits--one was a guy who'd been my friend in 4th grade--and my neighbor's house was one that got hit. They got in from the back, at night when he wasn't home.

So my neighbor's response was to put up a huge mecury vapor floodlight, illuminating his back yard like a football stadium. I don't blame him, of course, but ever since then it's been almost impossible to do any real stargazing from the patio because that security lamp is blasting half a kilowatt of energy all over the place.

The honeysuckle bushes on the south border of the patio help a bit, though.

...our original neighbor moved out after his wife died. The house was bought by the town's fire chief; I'd hoped he would shut the thing off but that floodlight still goes on every night.

* * *

Had an interesting dream--well, interesting to me, anyway.

It was Christmastime. I, in my present form, was visiting my family in 1980. I have no idea how I'd managed this nor was there really any explanation given why I was able to sit there in the living room with my 13-year-old self.

...but I was talking to my younger self, showing him my Kindle, and talking a bit about how awesome the technology was going to be when he got to my age.

(Actually it wasn't my Kindle, exactly. It was a Kindle-like device, but had more buttons on it; also it had a color display. But it wasn't a Kindle Fire, either.)

Thinking about it now, though, I've realized that my brain actually got the setting right. The fireplace was installed in the north wall in 1992; in 1980 that was just a blank wall--so in my dream the sofa was there.

But minus several points for it being the sofa we got in 1982; still, when you're talking about a time-travel story where you're showing your 13-year-old self some kind of advanced tablet computer I guess one anachronism more or less doesn't really make much difference.

Besides, then my niece showed up in the dream (my brother's daughter) and was making trouble. Oh well.

Some of this must have come from the idea I had a few nights ago. I was thinking it might be interesting to write a story set in 2012, but told from the viewpoint of a time traveler from 1970.

Someone--for humor's sake--once wrote a vignette like that, showing how our everyday lives would be portrayed in a science fiction story. My story would be similar to that, except that it'd have a plot rather than just being primarily an illustration. The main character would probably be an engineer-type, someone who understands technology to a fairly high degree--because it would be fun for him to be caught absolutely flat-footed by how much things changed in 42 years.

...figure the guy's got to build himself a temporal beacon or something in order to get back to 1970. It won't be hard for him to get the parts since we still manufacture transistors, but his foray into the modern technological world will be fun to write.

Example: he goes to Radio Shack to buy parts and discovers they don't sell nearly the amount of electronic components they once did. This could be the first thing that happens, in fact, because it clues him in that things are way different from how they were and he needs to adjust, fast.

Well, once I'm finished editing "RELEASE CANDIDATE #1" maybe I can work on that.

#3345: I don't read the news on weekends.

But I do surf the blogroll. be honest, I'm really not getting all that much out of WND any more, since they went to their new format. It's clunky and annoying and a headline really has to grab me to make me go through all the horseshit of opening the link in a new tab, finding out if it's a synopsis page or a real post, opening the real post, closing the synopsis page--yeah.

I was feeling pretty crummy earlier: gut malf, queasy stomach, the beginnings of a headache, so I took a nap and woke up feeling immensely better.

In the mood for Filet-O-Fish.

McDonald's charges too damn much for the things. The sandwich alone is $3, and what is it? A fish patty, a bun, half a slice of cheese, and a squirt of tartar sauce. It actually takes less effort to assemble one of those than it does to assemble a double cheeseburger and somehow I doubt that McDonald's pays more for fish patties and half-slices of cheese than it does for the two hamburger patties and two slices of "cheese" it puts on the double cheeseburger.

...for which they charge 1/3 the price.

Of course, there is the concept of "loss leaders". You get someone in the door by tempting them with $1 double hamburgers, and maybe they buy a large coke with it--and the $1 you charge for the Coke is perhaps 80% profit. But considering that McDonald's is one of the corporations which pioneered "scientific management"--reducing costs to the bare minimum through the monitoring of performance metrics--I somehow doubt that there is no profit built into the McDouble.

Also, when you buy your meat by the ton, there is probably a bulk discount involved.

But WTF: I know how to cook, and I had to go to the store anyway, so I put the components on my list.

The fish patties--8 to a box--cost $6, which is about the price of a Filet-O-Fish combo with tax. The buns were $1.15, the cheese $1.79, and the tartar sauce $2.50. Fries added $4.

That's $15.44...but $15.44 for four meals versus $6-ish for one. And I got better fries and a whole slice of cheese on each sandwich to boot.

* * *

Advice Goddess asks, "Does Jackie have a drug problem or a prohibition problem?" "Jackie" is the main character from Nurse Jackie, and Ms. Alkon is actually quoting someone else, but WTF.
...[L]ike [Gregory House from House, MD], she is very good at her job, which never seems to be compromised by her drug use except to the extent that she lies and cheats to get painkillers (along with the occasional stimulant) and to cover up her habit.
And, "She uses narcotics to manage her emotional state."

The thing is, narcotics make you high. They don't just modulate your emotions; they actually give you a feeling of euphoria and can do other things if you take enough of them. (Too much, of course, will depress your vital signs and kill you, but I'm not talking about that.)

If Nurse Jackie is having emotional problems she'd be better off going to see a shrink and getting something which is specifically indicated for emotional problems. Anxiety, bipolar, depression, whatever. These days there's little or no stigma attached to these things and the right drugs can work wonders.

So Nurse Jackie "invents injuries, deceives her friends, swipes medication, and starts an ill-advised extramarital affair with the hospital pharmacist who supplies her with painkillers."

This is a classic picture of addiction. "When Is A Drug Habit A Problem?" the headline of the post asks? Well, it's a problem when you do all the things I just listed solely so you can get your fix.

It doesn't matter how highly-functioning the addict is. Even if he can do his job perfectly while stoned out of his gourd, he's still got a problem and it is a "drug problem", not a "prohibition problem".

"What's the difference between that and you, Mr. 'I had to take Xanax again last night'?"

Simple: the drugs I take are non-narcotic, legally prescribed medications that don't get me high. I don't get a feeling of euphoria from them and I carefully stick to the prescribed dose because I don't want one; I take these things to make my brain work correctly.

You can get high if you take enough Xanax. I usually take half a dose--a quarter-milligram--because I don't need more for mild panic attacks, and the main side effect of that is to make me sleepy. Which is fine, because it's usually when I'm trying to sleep that I need it anyway.

Unlike Nurse Jackie I'm not self-medicating and I'm taking these drugs for their indicated purpose. Narcotic pain relievers aren't supposed to be used for emotional issues and are not indicated for that; they're prescribed to deal with serious pain, end of list, and if you're using them to change your emotional state you're an addict and you have a drug problem.

* * *

...which is not to say that I necessarily disagree with the thrust of the article Ms. Alkon blockquotes. I think there are a lot of things which could be OTC rather than prescription-only; sure some people would die, but we need to lose the training wheels of the nanny state if we want real freedom. Liberty, security, blah blah blah, etcetera.

And in all probability the people who would die would die anyway, from abusing some other substance. Like my sister (and her husband before her) drinking herself to death.

* * *

Alan Caruba asks, "Is 'Fast and Furious' the next Watergate?"

One can only hope.

* * *

Karl Denninger discusses how government intervention has led to the high cost of medical care. I don't mean "health insurance" (though that's happened too) but what the bills say when you get medical care.

Denninger uses the example of the $10 aspirin tablet, but if you've ever been involved with a hospital stay you know what I mean. The bill says $30,000 and the insurance company pays $2,000 and the hospital says "paid in full".

...but if you're some douche walking in off the street with no insurance? You pay $30,000 or declare bankrupty; there's no other option for you.

Of course, because medical services cost so much--at least the "sticker prices"--health insurance has gone up and up and up, at an average of a bit shy of 10% per year for decades.

* * *

This is f-ing brilliant. If you've got a chainsaw, scrap paper, and matches, you can make a hunk of log into a freestanding stove.

* * *

Well, I guess if I'm gonna get a ride on the motorcycle in, I'd better go do that. Tomorrow I have to get gas and cut the grass.

It's always something.